The Impacts of Lowering the Cost of Secondary Education: Evidence from a Fee Reduction in Kenya

Economics of Education Review, vol 83, 2021. (Awarded Economics of Education Review Best Paper of 2021) 

Abstract: I investigate the Kenyan government’s 2008 public secondary school fee reduction. This policy rapidly increased the proportion of students continuing from primary to secondary school, particularly from areas with low initial primary to secondary transition rates. Using this regional variation in exposure to the program together with birth-cohort variation, I show that the program increased female educational achievement, delayed childbirth and related demographic behaviors, and shifted employment away from agriculture towards skilled work.

Work in Progress

A Firm of Ones Own: Experimental Evidence on Credit Constraints and Occupational Choice - Updated version coming soon (Feb 2023)

(Joint with Maddalena Honorati, Pamela Jakiela, and Owen Ozier)

Abstract: Young adults attempting to generate an income face a number of potential barriers including limited access to credit, a lack of training, and difficulty identifying a business opportunity. Microfranchising is a new policy intervention designed to remove these barriers by linking unemployed individuals to pre-existing supply chains and a proven business model, helping small groups form microenterprises. This paper evaluates the girls empowered by microfranchising program which was open to unemployed teenage women in three of Nairobi’s poorer neighborhoods. The program provided participants with the human and physical capital necessary to open a small business. The evaluation is a randomized control trial based on oversubscription.

Status: Under review

Can School Upgrades Up Grades?  - Updated version coming soon (Feb 2023)

Abstract: Countries worldwide have been successful at getting children into school but low student learning and low school quality remain concerns. This paper analyzes whether a Kenyan government program that upgraded selected secondary schools to a higher-quality national tier improved student educational outcomes, as measured by student secondary school completion examination results. The program impact is identi ed by comparing student outcomes at upgraded schools to student outcomes at schools that met the government's upgrade eligibility criteria, but were not selected for the upgrade program. I examine only cohorts already enrolled in the schools prior to the upgrade announcements to avoid potential composition changes resulting from the program. Using this difference-in-differences approach, I  find that the program did not significantly improve outcomes for students enrolled in the the newly-upgraded schools while the new admissions mechanism admitted more geographically diverse but lower-achieving students.

Status: Under review

Steered Away from the Fields: Short-Term Impacts of Oxen on Agricultural Production and Intra-Household Labor Supply - Draft coming soon (Feb 2023)

(Joint with Aletheia Donald and Lea Rouanet)

Mechanization has the potential to boost agricultural production and reduce poverty in rural economies, but its impacts remain poorly understood. We randomize the subsidized provision of a pair of traction oxen among 2,546 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire through a matching grant. We find positive impacts on households’ agricultural production during the agricultural season overlapping with oxen delivery, and additional increases in total land holdings and use of complementary inputs in the subsequent season. The intervention affected household members in different ways, with wives and daughters substantially reducing their work on the farm. This effect was concentrated in villages with more stringent gender norms around handling oxen. The intervention also improved children’s health and reduced school dropout for boys. Our results provide novel evidence on the human development effects of mechanization, while highlighting how social prescriptions mediate the impacts of technology within the household.

Status: Under review

The effects of booster classes in protracted crisis settings: Evidence from Kenyan refugee camps  - Draft coming soon (Feb 2023)

(Joint with Thomas de Hoop, Chinmaya Holla, Darius Isaboke, Timothy Kinoti, Hannah Ring, and Victoria Rothbard)

Status: Under review

Land Formalization and Willingness to Invest in Rural Mozambique - Draft coming soon (Feb 2023)

(Joint with Claire Boxho and Joao Montalvao)

Status: Baseline, intervention, and follow-up completed

Returns to Soft-Skills Training for Recent Graduates in Rwanda - Draft coming soon (Feb 2023)

(Joint with Diego Ubfal)

Status: Baseline, intervention and three follow-ups completed

Personal Initiative Training and Mentoring for Cross-Border Traders in Burkina Faso

(Joint with Diego Ubfal, Benjamin Scharweit)

Status: Baseline and intervention completed